The Shadow Rising Read Along Part IV

JordanShadowRisingBannerOnce again we gather together to enjoy The Wheel of Time and machinations upon our beloved heroes and our dastardly bad guys. This week, Musings on Fantasia is hosting, so make sure to stop by her place to enjoy more fun.

Chapters 18-23 were devoured this week and discussion questions follow below. Spoilers are having a full cook out below, complete with adult drinks. You have been warned.

1) Perrin and Co. are on their way. He thinks he’s headed to his death. What kind of reception do you think he’ll find in the Two Rivers? How long will he and Faile’s stubborn, silent treatment of one another last? (Bonus question: Moiraine made a brief reference to secrets Faile is keeping from Perrin. What do you think they might be?)

I expect that Perrin will both be slapped by a distraught parent and hugged and blubbered upon. He and the rest left Two Rivers abruptly without any word of when they would be back. I also expect that he will be forced to call in some local wolves and be forced to use his axe, and maybe his hammer, for defense. He may cry if he has to kill anyone.

How long will Faile and him remain in this pissing contest? Hmmm…..Until they grow up? Perhaps a decade?

I love speculating about Faile. Perhaps she is royalty. Maybe she is an assassin in training. Maybe her folks are traveling thieves and cut throats. Maybe she escaped from some religious sect. Ooooo! Her father is a White Cloak! Yes, I will go with that because it would cause some serious angst between her and Perrin.

2) What do you think of the Seafolk and their strange clothing customs? Were you surprised to find hidden Channelers among them?

Channelers seem to be every where, and I like this as it means the White Tower does not reign as supreme as they like to think. It also points out once again how the Aes Sedai have managed to ostracize themselves by looking down on and occasionally dissecting Channelers from other belief systems.

For the dress customs, I think equality is the way to go. Ladies should be able to remove their shirts same as men without reprisal (from women or men). And men, if you want to wear skirts, pantyhose, and makeup, knock yourself out. Everyone, the utility kilt is the sexiest fashion statement around.

3) Rand dealt, after a fashion, with the Tairen High Lords, extra export inventory, famines in other lands, Callandor, and a few other things all in one fell swoop. How do you think he did?

He was marvelous. He did far better than I thought he would, and I like how he set his main enemies against one another while still avoiding declaring war on another nation. Rand is turning into an interesting person in this book. Really stressed, a little dark, infinite power (at cost), moral but stuck in a tough situation, and heron scars.

4) Into the Waste. Do you think Rand was wise to use the Portal stones again? What are your first impressions of Rhuidean and the Aiel homeland?

Well, the plot dictates we use the Portal Stones sooner or later, so why not have Rand lead a group through them to Rhuidean? I liked Mat’s complaining and how the Aiel helped Rand pick the right symbol.

My first impressions of the Waste and the Aiel is a parallel to Frank Herbert’s Fremen from the Dune series. Tough in every sense of the word, definitely into water conservation, strong sense of superiority (based on ability). An Aiel will drive herself or himself harder than anyone else, being their own toughest critic.

5) Couladin sure seems to be looking for trouble. What kind of role do you foresee him having in the story?

Is this the dude that had his penis in a knot over allowing Rand & crew to Rhuidean? I’m listening to the book, so I don’t catch the spelling for all the side characters and locations. If that’s the guy, he is wanting to start some shit because obviously there isn’t enough shit running around loose on hoof or wing for him to mess with. I predict that he will raise just enough of a following to cause a minor challenge to Rand. Rand may have to kill him. I hope that happens in single combat and they both have to remove articles of clothing.  Just like Paul Atreides in Dune and his hand-to-hand combat with an uppity Fremen that basically paved his acceptance into Fremen society.

6) The instant they hit the slopes above Rhuidean, there’s lots going on. Aviendha can channel, both Moiraine and Mat end up going to Rhuidean, and the Wise Ones accuse the Tower of coddling its trainees. What kind of learning experience do you think Egwene is in for in the Waste?

Egwene is going to get her ass kicked by the Aiel training. But I expect her stubborn streak will assert itself and she will end up greatly impressing the Wise Ones and will go on to complete her dream-walker training in record time. I mean this series is long, but not so long as to leave Egwene in the Waste for years.

Other Tidbits:

Moiraine got to be in the dark a chunk of this section. She made several sour faces. I don’t think she likes being used, left in the dark, strung along, or controlled through lack of info anymore than anyone she has used the same tactics on.

So, why didn’t the men have to strip butt-naked to enter Rhuidean? I mean, I enjoy the view of athletic humans as I enjoy SFF paintings, so it’s cool that Aviendha and Moiraine have to go running through the desert nude. But, let’s just say it – Equality , folks, that is what I want. Even if Mat or Rand are hairy and pasty white, I still think they should have been required to enter Rhuidean nude too.

The Shadow Rising Read Along Part III

JordanShadowRisingBannerWelcome everyone to the third week of the read along. This week, we covered Chapters 11-17. Post a link to your answers in the comments so we can all visit one another.

Spoilers are throwing a party below. There may be language, references to nude behavior, and run on sentences. You have been warned.

1) Egwene dives back into Tel’aran’rhiod to investigate Tanchico and comes out with an Aiel Wise Woman’s contact info. Egwene kicks herself for not having the knowledge and skill to interpret her dreams. Have you ever given dream interpretation a shot? Do you think Egwene’s plans to train and pass that on to Nynaeve and Elayne will work out as she plans?

I think this was the funnest trip to Tel’aran’rhiod yet! Egwene got several lessons, such as messing with another’s hunting dream can lead to all-over sunburn! I think it is great that at least one of the Supergirls is going to actively pursue some training. But will Egwene be able to pass that on? Perhaps, but I doubt it will go smoothly or as she plans. Something will crop up, and distance and time between Egwene and Elayne and Nynaeve I expect will be a factor.

I have never really dabbled with dream interpretation. In college, a friend told me that if you dreams include anything even marginally phallic, like candles, lying broken all about willy nilly, then you have ‘man issues’. Hmm…. So, what means you have ‘woman issues’ in dreams? Broken clams? *snort laugh*

2) Robert Jordan loves setting up the battle of the sexes, doesn’t he? In this section we see that Perrin and Faile are having a contest of wills. Rand versus the Aes Sedai (Moiraine in particular). Thom versus Moiraine. Even Min! What do you think of Jordan’s use of this?

In Min’s case, I found it very amusing. Her whole disguise and being a helpless airhead – and men were OK with it! But for Perrin and Faile, I found this a bit over done. While initially amusing, I sometimes do get a little tired of the underlying message that men & women are different for two reasons: 1) over done and 2) not necessarily true. So, a bit of it is amusing; too much takes away from the story line.

3) Mat, Perrin, and Rand finally hear about Whitecloaks in the Two Rivers. Perrin feels an obligation to return, tries to break some ties, and then finds out he won’t be going alone. Were you surprised at Perrin’s self-sacrificial take on this situation? Will the White Cloaks get more than they are looking for?

At first, I believed Perrin was going back to defend Two Rivers, not to put himself in a gallows tree! I was pissed at him when I figured out that was his plan. I was worried Rand would be the one to consider some form of suicide, but no, it is Perrin I must keep my eye on.

So Perrin is gathering quite the small, effective strike force to take with him. Faile alone, in her current state of pissiness, would give the White Cloaks a second thought about messing with Two Rivers. But then throw in Loial and the Aiel and now it looks like I might have to feel sorry for the White Cloaks.

I do worry that we will have some Two Rivers death to mourn before this book is over. Will this book maintain it’s PG rating, or will the shit get real and we loose some characters we care about? I don’t expect Perrin or Faile to be taken out this early in the series, but some Two Rivers parents or friends may have to die to move the plot along :(.

4) Ladies and their weapons: We saw some hand-to-hand altercations and some subtler weapons in use in this section. Who do you deem the more dangerous – Berelain or Faile?

Berelain. Hands down. She is not afraid to harm folks to get what she wants, she is driven by power not goodness, and no one expects her to be trained in hand-to-hand combat in those oh-so-sheer and skimpy clothes.

Faile is dangerous too, but she has a strong moral compass that won’t allow her to manipulate people (without very good reason) as Berelain will. She has to have a clear signal that someone needs to be taken out before she’ll take a knife to them with conviction.

5) Of course Mat goes through the doorway! But once he is done with his question and answer session and tossed out, he realizes he wasn’t the only one seeking answers. What kind of beings do you think the folk in the doorway were? What do you think Rand and Moiraine asked and had answered?

Mat, Mat, Mat! If anyone could break a ter’angreal, it would be Mat. Those beings made me think of succubi – beings that feed off the life force or emotional energy of others. Leeches, if you will.

I expect that Rand and Moiraine went into the ter’angreal with specific questions in mind, just as Mat. Rand seemed, perhaps not content, but at least set on a decision based on what he learned. Moiraine gave no hints at all. I am guessing that Rand and Moiraine got the run around same as Mat, but perhaps were asking bigger view questions that Mat.

6) Finally, Loial is back in the story. While he seems to be content as a chronicler, do you think The Wheel will let him sit in a corner with pen and ink the entire book? What do you think of Faile’s twisting his arm to visit The Ways?

It was so very good to see Loial again (chapter 16 folks!). No, I don’t think The Wheel is done with Loial and it’s set up nicely for him to have need to hit the road again – avoiding his mother and her plans to marry him off. hehe.

Faile. tsk, tsk. I think Faile has taken things too far on this one. Yes, Perrin was harsh with her. But dragging Loial into their lover’s spat, basically lying to and manipulating Loial….not cool. Poor Loial is stuck in an awkward position now. And Faile pushing Perrin to the breaking point when she knows that he is trying to get to Two Rivers swiftly, to protect his family, friends, and home town – well, kind of low of her. These two will need counseling after this if they intend to remain a couple. Should I root for them, or just for Perrin at this point?

Other Tidbits:

Moiraine had a summons for Egwene from the Aiel Wise Women…..which she received long before Egwene’s visit to tel’aran’rhiod. Spooky!

We ran into some very, very interesting side characters in this section, but I have to say I am very interested in Rhuarc and his comments to Berelain about their past conversation. I wish I knew the back story on that one!

When Perrin ran into Gaul, who told Perrin that he and some Aiel would be going along, Perrin comments about using The Ways for travel. Gaul’s response, paraphrased – ‘We all must face death sooner or later’ – had me laughing out loud. I hope we get to know Gaul better.

Gawayne and Galad – one is so sweet and one is scary in his convictions, his flirting with the White Cloak way of life.

Thom and Moiraine have a very interesting and revealing conversation about their names. I so very much want a back story on both these characters!

What Others Think:

Musings on Fantasia

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

Pico is fixated on another kitty off-camera.
Pico is fixated on another kitty off-camera.

Why I Read It: I’m participating in this wicked little thing called a Series Read Along.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Epic fantasy nuts.

Narrators: Kate Reading and Michael Kramer

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (2004)

Length: 24 hours 31 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Wheel of Time

If you have not read Book 2, The Great Hunt, beware of spoilers in this review for the series up to the end of Book 2.

OK, so that isn’t a picture of the audiobook, but I own both and I like this ever so serious picture of Pico.

Once again, Rand must face several challenges, including grappling with his growing power. In this installment of the series, he sets off on a quest and the heroes are once again split up. In fact, the bulk of the book focuses on the other main characters and their struggles and adventures as they do what they can to aid and support Rand. Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne have their own trio of Lady Power adventure while Mat, who was suffering greatly from the possessed (or possessive?) dagger, attempts to dodge responsibility and only ends up with more, plus a returning friendly face. Perrin rides with Lan and Moiraine as they attempt to stay ahead of some supreme evilness, and another character enters the story to keep Perrin on his toes.

I really enjoyed how Robert Jordan put this book together. Yes, the entire series is about Rand and the ultimate battle between good and evil. Yes, Rand is pretty freaking important. But, hey, let’s see what all these other characters are doing. Focusing on these other main characters was a great way to show that the main character, Rand, can’t do it all on his own. If you have read up to this point in the series, you know that Book 1, The Eye of the World, was nearly completely from Rand’s point of view. So this is quite the switch to have nearly zero Rand point of view. But have no fear; nearly everyone is thinking of Rand, so he is still very much a part of the story.

If you have read my reviews of the first two books, you probably picked up on the fact that I felt there were some strong similarities to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Well, here in Book 3, I am very happy to say that Robert Jordan is finding his own voice, relying less and less on well established fantasy tropes and creating his own world. This book was much more satisfying for it.

The Aiel also make a worthy appearance in this novel. They have been mentioned before, with brief glimpses, but in this book we get to see the warriors with their honor code and unique fighting abilities. I especially love that the Aiel bring the element of the warrior woman to the story in a believable, fully fleshed way. As we already know, Rand can channel and Perrin talks to wolves. Well, turns out the Wheel wasn’t done with Mat and his special ability turns up in this book. It definitely makes things interesting.

Kate Reading and Michael Kramer were excellent readers, as always. They must keep sound samples to keep all the side characters straight. There was one side character that got some sort of New York Italian accent that threw me for a loop at first, but I guess with a cast of characters this large it would be hard to avoid doing such a thing for the entire series with at least some of the side characters.

What I Liked: Jordan has found his own voice; we get to see lots of the other characters, being carried around in their heads; the Aiel are no longer just myth and rumor; women warriors!; the ending was more concrete than the dream endings of Books 1 & 2.

What I Disliked: We still had a little predictability in that the story arc started the same as for Books 1 & 2.

OnceUponATime7What Others Thought:

Musings on Fantasia

Fantasy Book Review

The Wertzone

Literally Jen

Want to enjoy more Fantasy? Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the Fantasy reading event of the season, Once Upon A Time. There is still time to join the fun!

If you would like more detail, peruse the read along posts:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

The Great Hunt Read Along Part VI

JordanGreatHuntBannerHello folks. This week we cover chapters 35-42 of The Great Hunt. Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings is our host this week, so make sure to stop by her place. Next week we’ll be back here for the final installment of The Great Hunt.

This week’s questions:

1. We got to see a lot more Ogier in this section. What did you think of them and their village?
It was nice to see some Ogier women…..and Loial’s reaction. Poor dude. Hiding behind his book probably won’t be enough to keep him safe from the machinations of marriage. Also, the guest quarters were thoughtful, but in general were too large for most humans. Sounds like an interesting place to visit, and an awkward place to try to set down for a long time.
2. There were some suspicions about what the Aiel women were really doing. Do you think they are looking for Rand or that it was a coincidence?
Well, I think there are a lot of people looking for Rand, or rather their myth’s version of the Dragon Reborn, and they simply don’t know that it is Rand. So, in a way, yes, the Aiel women are looking for the answer to their prophecies. They may suspect Rand at this point, but I don’t think they will interfere with him….yet.
3. When Rand was trying to use the Portal stone, everyone got a glimpse at possible lives. What did you think of Rand’s other possibilities? What do you think were Verin and Ingtar’s?
I think being shown our possible other lives in full technicolor would be hard on anyone, but especially someone who carries the power to destroy people and reshape the world. Verin probably had some of the basics – like being a mother/grandmother, not being an Aes Sedai, choosing a different ajah. Ingtar perhaps had to face not being a warrior, or perhaps not fulfilling some vow. All of them were pretty shaken up.
My goatmilk raised kitty Chupacabra.
My goatmilk raised kitty Chupacabra.

4. Liandrin has finally shown her true colors! How do you think her betrayal will turn out for her and the rest of the Aes Sedai? Do you think she’ll get away with it?

I held out hope for this long that she was simply a prickly person, very stern, had too high of an opinion of herself. Alas, she is all those things and black ajah. Bitch. But we needed a real, non-nebulous bad guy other than Padan Fain. Now I have some one to hate on and hope that the main good guys corner her in some dark alley sometime soon. This is a really long series, so I expect she will get away with it for some few-several books and then get struck by lightning or drowned or suffocated or hit by a large horse. Any number of deaths are OK by this reader.
5. Poor Egwene! Do you think Nynaeve and Elayne can save her before the ship arrives?
I want to say yes, because good always triumphs, right? I really don’t remember how this book ends. I do remember that I don’t like the Seanchan and their collars at all. Still, Egwene is getting some pretty harsh treatment this book.
Other Tidbits:
I read this book many, many years ago and only remember the abrupt appearance of the Seachan and their advanced technology and military organization. I found it too jarring back then and gave up on the series. This time around, I still find it very jarring, but I am assured that things settle down and I just need to push through this discombobulation.
Bela, girl, what will happen to you?!?
Hehe. Loial says Ogier women make all the decisions about marriage, and then inform the involved male. Mat says humans never do it that way. Perrin begs to differ. Then we change scenes and there are the ladies planning how best to divide up rand’s time among the three of them. Lol!